Just a nit, but should the heading “Overcast” really be “Sky Condition”
You sure about that? I’m not sure non-ceiling conditions are displayed.
Edited: Apparently it displays Few there too, so I see the issue. It’s supposed to only display ceilings.
Ceiling is defined as the lowest Broken or Overcast layer.
Sky condition list the cloud layers, including clear, few, scattered, broken, and overcast, or any combination of those layers.
Yeah it’s not an issue of lack of understanding but just getting the system to perform as intended to be the most readable and intuitive for “at a glance” weather. For example, nobody cares about few at 4000 when there’s overcast 2000 in my opinion.
I don’t think we want it to say “sky condition” unless it’s actually going to list every cloud layer reported in the METAR.
Ceiling is actually the VV or the lowest BKN/OVC.
Is there an official metar abbrev for a tornado on the ground? SPC uses TVS, tornado vortex signature, rotation on the ground or on radar. Just curious. (sorry for interrupting)
FC = Funnel Cloud, and +FC = Tornado/Waterspout
Thanks, azav8r. Technically, a funnel is rotating air that has NOT reached the ground. The NWS needs us spotters to specify whether the rotation is a funnel or a tornado (on the ground). I don’t think it’s very important b/c both require warning the public and even if it’s just a funnel, many will reach the ground shortly thereafter. But I guess it’s ok for aviation to use FC for tornado because whether it’s on the ground or not probably has no effect on someone flying over it
Just don’t land through it.
The NWS for the purpose of METAR’s designates FC as just a Funnel Cloud…but when there is a “+” qualifier in front of FC that’s what designates an actual tornado…The “+” qualifier denotes “heavy”, and is also used for other descriptors, such as heavy rain…and thunderstorms (+RA and +TS). In this case it could be mentally thought of that the Funnel Cloud became so “heavy” that it fell to the ground turning it into a tornado (+FC)…
Whoa, that’s pretty heavy, man! Thanks for clarifying that. If I were to make a spotter report to the NWS saying that the funnel got heavy and fell to the ground, it’s sort of like my calling them and saying “it’s raining really heavy!” And they would most likely reply, “You’re fired!”
Next question. The NWS gets it’s funnel and tornado reports from rotation and hook echoes on radar, but mostly from spotters, law enforcement, chasers and amateur radio. What is the source for the FC and +FC in metars for pilots, who actually types them up and spits them out and how often are they updated? Those puppies can come and go in 30 seconds. Would that be each local NWS or the airport itself? I find listening to ATC and other pilots during storms is a great source since they’re also eye witnesses.
(I know they’re under wx info on the airport info pages, but maybe the metars could pop up on the airport activity page as well? No hurry, I’m still learning how to read them lol)
It’s all done in conjuction with these folks: http://adds.aviationweather.noaa.gov/
With the local airport weather observations, it’s either the manually created ATIS reports or the automated ASOS/AWOS reports being relayed to the NWS. Tornadic activity is reported as you mentioned. But by the time it hits the METAR’s it’s old news as you would guess…
Here’s some help with interpreting METAR’s http://www.srh.noaa.gov/bna/educate/metar/quick-metar.html
Thanks for the links. I self teach in all my hobbies and the links will be helpful. Has a plane ever been nabbed by a tornado or a funnel? I’m sure the tower would see it first, as well as the pilot in front of you, however sometimes these things dart out when and where no one excepts them, and with all the planes in the air, was wondering if a funnel ever got one up on the technology and someone didn’t escape.